Doctrine and Covenants 1: The Preface
November 1, 1831, Hiram, Ohio, in the John and Elsa Johnson home, second floor translating room. On this day and in this place a conference was called to consider the question of publishing the revelations heretofore received by the Prophet Joseph Smith. It was voted that the revelations should be published to all the world.
It is likely that this decision may have been influenced by the media of the day. Certain newspapers in Ohio had published and misrepresented some of Joseph’s revelations. Not only was it needful that the revelations be compiled for the blessing and use of the saints, but also to disabuse the public mind.
Accordingly, it was concluded that a preface should be written to front the new book. Sidney Rigdon, Oliver Cowdery, and William E. McClellin were appointed to complete the task. However, that morning when they presented their draft it is recorded that the “conference picked it all to pieces.”
The Conference then asked the Prophet Joseph to inquire of the Lord for a suitable preface to the new volume. The Conference then dismissed for a mid-day recess. It was during that recess that Joseph Smith sat near the window and “dictated the preface by the Spirit while Sidney Rigdon acted as scribe. William E. McCLellin described, “Joseph would deliver a few sentences and Sidney would write them down, then read them aloud, and if correct, then Joseph would proceed and deliver more.” In this way, “the preface was given.”
The revelation received on that day would go on to become Doctrine and Covenants section 1—The Lord’s preface and testimony to the book, and a witness and a warning to all the world that “The anger of the Lord is kindled, and his sword is bathed in heaven, and it shall fall upon the inhabitants of the earth….”and “they who not hear the voice of the Lord, neither the voice of his servants, neither give heed to the words of the prophets and apostles, shall be cut off from among the people.”
Christ and calamity are coming to this earth and these revelations are to empower all men “that every man may speak in the name of God the Lord, even the Savior of the World.”